What's the Difference Between a Porch and a Deck?

Julissa Arangure
Written by Julissa Arangure
Updated December 22, 2021
Mother and daughter sitting on front porch
Photo: Creative Flame / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • A porch is an extension of an entryway.

  • A deck is usually located at the back of the house.

  • Both porches and decks require proper maintenance for safety and longevity.

  • The average cost of a porch is $10,000 dollars.

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Having an outdoor living space is great for entertaining, relaxing, and enjoying the weather. Not only do porches and decks enhance the beauty of a home, they are practical by creating more space for you and your guests. If you’re thinking of sprucing up your home this season but aren’t sure which route to go, let our guide help you decide. 

What’s the Difference Between a Porch and a Deck?

The main difference between a porch and a deck is that porches tend to have an awning and offer extra protection before coming into the house. A porch is an addition to your entryway while a deck is generally built in the backyard and serves as a recreational area. 

Porches are typically used for relaxing, welcoming guests, and sometimes for storage. Decks may be used for grilling, entertaining, sunbathing, and fun jacuzzi nights.

Porch Pros and Cons

Front porch with rocking chair
Photo: pics721 / Adobe Stock

Grab a good book or simply people-watch on your new covered porch.

Pros

  • Adds extra space: A porch is like an extension of the living room. You can welcome guests, read a good book while enjoying the weather, and you can even use it to store some items like coats and shoes.

  • Natural light: Whether your porch is screened off or built from glass panels, you can enjoy the natural light without the inconvenience of weather changes. It’s a great space for kids to play and for pets to take naps in

  • Gives curb appeal: Porches can add more personality to your home with a combination of fun colors and unique decor enhancements such as playful furniture and pretty outdoor lights.  

  • Protect from insects: Screened-in porches and added doors do wonders for keeping critters out of your home.

  • No permits needed: As with any renovation or construction, check your state’s requirements but, typically anything lower than 30 inches off the ground does not need a permit so you can build comfortably.

Cons:

  • Stains: Debris and dirt can accumulate in your porch, causing some unwanted stains. 

  • Expensive to install: A custom large screened-in porch can cost up to $10,000 dollars. However, a non-enclosed porch is $2,000–$5,000.

  • Hazard: If you live in snowy climates, porches can get water damage and make your porch hazardous to walk on so maintenance is extremely important.

Deck Pros and Cons

House exterior with large open deck with outdoor furniture
Photo: Iriana Shiyan / Adobe Stock

Entertain friends and family on your new deck or play with the dog while you barbecue dinner. 

Pros

  • Easily customizable: Decks can include anything you want them to. Some love the idea of having a kitchen installed right on the deck and others include a jacuzzi to enjoy those cozy winter nights. There is really no limit on size, style, or design.

  • Good views: Because of their open, large space, decks make you feel like you are in the great outdoors with cool breezes and beautiful sunny views.

  • Boosts value of home: When decks are made out of wood, they last longer, are easier to maintain and can be restored rather than needing to be replaced. A good deck design can boost the value of your home.

  • Room to host: Decks are a must if you often host parties and events. On a cool breezy day, there is nothing better than a BBQ with close friends and family,  

  • Lower cost: It’s less expensive to hire a deck builder in your area compared to a porch builder. A deck’s average cost is $7,700, depending on material, design, and labor. 

Cons

  • Maintenance: Wooden decks will last longer over time with proper care, however, that requires staining, power washing, and sealing every couple of years.

  • May need a permit: Depending on the size and height of your deck, your city may require a permit, which can delay your building time and increase your labor costs.

Weight restrictions: If you want to add a kitchen or hot tub to your deck, you may have to reinforce your deck for extra support.

Porches vs. Decks

Construction: Tie

Decks and porches are built similarly, with the main difference being that porches have roofs. A porch will require posts to support the overhang ceiling at the front. This is part of what makes a porch more expensive than a deck. 

Decks on the other hand, are completely open. While you spend less on materials, you may need to spend more on making sure that your deck is waterproof since it’s not protected from the outside elements.

Flooring: Porches

Porches and decks are both made of pressure-treated wood, a chemically treated wood that is used to protect it from bugs and weather elements. However, porches tend to have a more finished polished look, while decks can be more rustic. 

Safety: Decks

Both decks and porches are safe as long as they are well maintained. If you have small children and pets, a porch will need to have a door or gate to avoid any street accidents. Since decks are mostly located in the backyard, it provides more privacy.

Maintenance: Tie 

Maintenance for both a porch and a deck will depend on materials being used. Because decks are open spaces and usually made of wood, they will need to be washed annually and stained at least every two years. Porches will require less maintenance since they are covered but, you do need to look out for any chipped or loose wood.

As you can see, both porches and decks offer a variety of benefits and can be used to entertain guests as well as provide relaxation in beautiful breezy weather. The right fit will depend on climate, safety, and family needs. Whatever you decide, always contact a skilled professional in your area to get the right estimate and permits.

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